Fr. Varghese Kalapurakudy

A country priest comes to Kakinada, finding joy with his people in Christ's Sacred Heart.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Christ is Risen in Kakinada

Music played, lights flashed, and a crowd of 1,000-plus people watched as children at Sacred Heart Mission re-enacted Christ's Resurrection for the Easter Vigil, 2016. The innovative tomb was built from tree boughs and canvas, and made an effective back drop for this home-grown Resurrection play.  

Sacred Heart has no church, but nearby, under the portico of the parish's little hall, stood the altar where the pastor, Fr. Varghese, celebrated Easter Vigil Mass. People traveled in from surrounding villages and were first fed by Missionaries of Charity in their "back yard" coconut grove, about five blocks down the street. A faithful woman had sent a gift for this Easter feeding in the "Spirit of the season," and in thanksgiving for a powerful retreat she attended. 

Visitors ate and listened to Sacred Heart faithful sing Easter songs of praise.  But the highlight of the evening came afterwards, at Easter Vigil Mass. Alleluia! The Lord is Risen!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Joy and a Holy Padhayathra

Co-missionary and former seminary classmate of Fr. Varghese's, Fr. Baskhar, shared striking photos from his Way of the Cross and Easter Vigil Mass. This pastor of Infant Jesus Church serves at a church converted from an old school in Kothakota village, 20 kilometers from Narsipatnam. To reach Fr. Baskhar's mission, Fr. Varghese and fellow priests ride a bus five hours' north from Kakinada and then walk from the road point, through forest pathways, to reach the interior village. 
Fr. Baskhar serves Catholics from seven surrounding villages, in an area known through the 1940s for its human sacrifice to the goddess Durga. Many of his people are from various tribal groups. He is the "first parish priest of newly-erected parish," wrote Fr. Baskhar, after he took up his new assignment June of 2014. "I must lay good faith foundation." 

But before they celebrated the joy of the Ressurrection, Infant Jesus faithful brought the story of Christ's passion to village streets:  

Re-enacting Christ's passion in a holy "padhayathra," prayerful procession, draws 
 His people into more deeply experiencing Christ's love and sacrifice for them.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday Way of Cross through Kakinada

In spite of unseasonably hot Spring temperatures around 100 degrees F., faithful gathered with Fr. Varghese for a Good Friday procession through the streets of Kakinada. Many carried little wood crosses as a sign of their devotion and participation in carrying Christ's cross. Prayers were broadcast by means of a simple loudspeaker mounted on a bicycle rickshaw.

Maundy Thursday at Sacred Heart

As he prepared for Maundy Thursday Mass at his Sacred Heart Mission in Kakinada, Fr. Varghese texted to a friend this touching photo of St. Pope John Paul II at a foot washing ceremony.

The mood was prayerful at the well attended Mass in Kakinada, which marks Fr. Varghese's second Triduum at his parish along the Bay of Bengal. One of the features of Sacred Heart, is its variety of faithful. Fr. Varghese serves fishermen's families along the Bay, international students from local colleges, shopkeepers, factory workers, computer operators, street children and homeless. His people are of various backgrounds and ethnic groups, so he uses Malayalam, Telegu and English to cross the language divide. On Thursday night, however, actions spoke louder than words, in both the foot washing ceremony, and the reverent celebration of the Eucharist.

On this night, Kakinada faithful joined Catholics world-wide in recalling the Last Supper of Jesus and the institution of the Eucharist -- Jesus' Gift of Love, in which He gives Himself Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, to His people.